Workplace injuries can have devastating financial consequences for employees and their families in South Carolina. The workers’ compensation program ensures employees have fast access to financial compensation during recovery. However, several factors can complicate a workers’ comp claim.
Our Charleston workers’ compensation lawyer Trey Harrell can help, and our legal team is ready to listen to the details of your case. Our personal injury attorney in Charleston stands up for injured workers like you, and we’re ready to dedicate our resources to help your situation get closer to normal again.
What Workers’ Compensation Benefits Are Available in South Carolina?
Medical treatment coverage is the most commonly used benefit. An employer’s insurance policy covers the cost of necessary medical expenses, including ongoing treatments.
However, there are several other types of workers’ compensation benefits available under varying circumstances in South Carolina:
- Temporary partial disability benefits provide a portion of the wage difference between pre-accident earnings and current earnings if you can work but with restrictions on your workload.
- Temporary total disability benefits cover a percentage of your average weekly wages while you cannot work but will recover and return eventually.
- Permanent partial disability benefits provide wage relief for someone who sustained a permanent impairment but can still work in some capacity.
- Permanent total disability benefits provide continued support for someone who suffered a permanent disability and can never perform their job again.
- Vocational rehabilitation services help you return to employment after recovering from your injuries.
If a work-related injury leads to the death of a loved one, you may be eligible for death benefits, which can include compensation for funeral expenses and lost income they continued to your household.
Who Is Eligible for Workers’ Compensation?
South Carolina law requires all employers with four or more employees to carry workers’ compensation insurance. However, there are specific circumstances where an employee may not qualify for coverage. For example, agricultural and domestic workers do not always have protection. Casual employees, meaning those who do not work regularly scheduled hours, and contract employees also might not qualify.
Workers’ comp laws are complex and can change over time. If you have specific questions about your eligibility, you should speak with our Charleston workers’ compensation lawyer about the details of your case.
What Are the Steps for Starting a Workers’ Compensation Claim in South Carolina?
Starting a workers’ comp claim in South Carolina involves three main steps. Every case has unique circumstances, but understanding these key elements of the process can help you get the benefits you deserve.
Report the injury and seek medical attention
Immediately following the incident or as soon as you become aware of a worker-related illness, you should notify your employer. Severe accidents sometimes prompt an emergency response your employer will hear about anyway. However, reporting the injury in detail and in writing helps to protect your right to compensation.
Seek medical attention for your injury as soon as possible. Your employer’s insurance provider may have a preferred provider network or medical facility you should visit. You can check with them when you report the accident. Be sure to inform the staff that you suffered your injury at work.
File your claim with the South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Commission
Your employer should file the claim with their provider. However, if they fail to file or deny that your injury occurred during the scope of your job, you can file a claim with the South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Commission on your own. This is often where a Charleston workers’ compensation lawyer would step in to help you build your case and file a claim.
The information you need when you file includes:
- Your employer’s name and the date you gave them notice of the injury
- The date of the accident and your diagnosis or treatment
- Details regarding the body parts injured or affected
- The medical treatment needed and the provider treating you
- The type of benefits you seek
Depending on the circumstances of your case, you may need to file a Form 50 or Form 52.
Form 50 is for people who suffered an accident-related injury, occupational disease or repetitive trauma.
Form 52 is for a family member seeking death benefits for a loved one lost in a workplace accident.
Receive a benefits determination
After you or your employer submits your claim, you will receive a determination of eligibility. If approved, they will outline the benefits available to you. Ideally, the provider would offer adequate compensation, allowing you to receive the medical care you need and rest and recover without financial struggle. If a dispute arises, a legal representative is your most valuable resource.
When Would You Need a Charleston Workers’ Compensation Lawyer?
You should hire an attorney to represent you at the first sign of unease in your case. Look for these common examples of when a lawyer can help:
- The settlement offer does not cover all your expenses, including medical bills and lost income, or the employer does not pay your benefits on time.
- Your injury or illness limits your ability to do the job you had pre-injury or keeps you from working in any capacity.
- Your employer retaliates against you for filing a claim. This can include firing you, demoting you or cutting your hours.
- The insurance company pushes back on your claim.
- You currently receive or plan to apply for Social Security benefits.
The most common reason to seek legal presentation is if the employer or insurance company denies your claim.
Common reasons for denying a workers’ comp claim
Reasons for denying a workers’ comp claim can be valid or invalid. Some reasons to rightfully deny a claim include failing to report the injury and accident within the allotted time or not providing sufficient medical evidence to support the claim.
Most workers’ comp claim denials are the result of employer disputes. The employer can argue that the accident did not happen at work or that your injury did not arise from the accident. If this occurs, an experienced Charleston workers’ compensation lawyer will step in to protect your rights.
Duties of a Charleston workers’ compensation attorney
Attorney Trey Harrell has extensive experience battling insurance companies and employers for fair compensation following a workplace injury. Key components of our legal team’s job include:
- Assisting you in completing the necessary paperwork to file your claim
- Gathering the evidence required to prove your claim, including relevant medical records and eyewitness statements
- Negotiating with the insurance company to ensure you receive all applicable benefits based on the severity of your injuries
- Filing appeals to combat unfairly denied or disputed claims for benefits
- Protecting you against employer retaliation
As your legal representation, our job is to provide guidance through the claims process and ensure you make informed decisions about your claim. When you cannot reach a fair resolution with the insurance company, we sometimes need to take further action.
Can You Sue Over a Workers’ Comp Claim?
Only under certain circumstances can you file a lawsuit regarding a workplace injury. Workers’ compensation law protects the employer from liability and allows the employee to recover compensation regardless of fault. However, you can sue for unlawful treatment following the claim. For example, South Carolina prohibits employers from firing or demoting an employee for filing a claim. Therefore, you can sue them if you can prove they retaliated.
A less common example of when you can sue is if a third party is responsible for your accident. For example, a construction worker injured on the job by a defective piece of equipment may have the right to sue the machine’s manufacturer. You can speak with an attorney to better understand your right to sue following a work accident.
Speak With an Experienced Charleston Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Today
If you have questions regarding your case, there is no time too soon to speak with an experienced Charleston workers’ compensation lawyer. Trey Harrell Auto Accident & Personal Injury Attorney formerly worked as a federal prosecutor and has years of experience handling work injury cases like yours.
Our legal team offers compassionate and professional representation to help clients access the financial compensation they need after a devastating accident. Contact Trey Harrell to schedule your free workers’ compensation case consultation and take the first steps toward recovering the finances you need.
FAQs About Workers’ Compensation Claims
What is the coming and going rule?
This rule determines when you can receive benefits if you were hurt traveling to or from work. Generally, you cannot receive benefits when you are injured in the course of commuting to work. However, if you were traveling in the regular course of your employment, you may be entitled to benefits because it would be considered a work-related injury.
How many weeks can you stay on workers’ compensation?
You can keep receiving workers’ compensation benefits until you are able to return to work. In South Carolina, you can receive benefits for up to a maximum of 500 weeks. The insurance company does not always get the final say about when you can return to work.
Can you be fired while on workers’ comp?
Your employer cannot fire you as retaliation for your filing a workers’ compensation claim. However, there is nothing that says that they need to hold your job indefinitely or that you cannot be terminated for performance issues. You may even be laid off when you are receiving benefits. Your employer will never tell you that they are firing you for filing a claim, so you may need circumstantial evidence to prove a wrongful termination.